I wanted a 36-game losing streak so damn bad. I wanted it more than I wanted to get accepted to Newhouse at Syracuse University back during my junior year of high school. I wanted it more than I wanted Doug Collins to get fired last April. I wanted it more than my twin sister wanted Justin Bieber back in 2009.
What those four aspirations all have in common is that they never came to fruition. I ended up visiting Syracuse's campus and hating that it was literally in the middle of nowhere. Collins ultimately "resigned" instead of being shamefully fired. Beiber's life went in the toilet, so my sister dodged that bullet. And thanks to the Detroit Pistons organization pooping its collective pants this season — and clearly tanking games at the end of the year to keep it's Top-8 protected lottery pick in this June's draft — the 36-game losing streak never happened.
And I wasn't happy about this.
Why would I want the team I spent my childhood deliriously cheering for to be forever immortalized as the greatest losers of all time? It's simple: With Sam Hinkie setting out to demolish what the team's old regime created in the Wells Fargo Center, if the Sixers lost their last 36 games of the regular season, he would have flawlessly executed a plan and successfully lost better than anyone had ever lost before in league history.
He still did a solid job at completing that task. That's why Joshua Harris deemed the season a success, after all. In phase one of this deliberate rebuilding plan, we all know losing is a necessity to get draft better draft picks. What better way to build a perennial title contender than carrying out each step in this process to the its fullest potential?
The greatest part about the 26-game losing streak was how Brett Brown's little engine that couldn't somehow captured the national spotlight. Pundits cried whether the Sixers were too bad, yet the Milwaukee Bucks, who were trying to make the playoffs this season, were still worse!
After the Sixers were shellacked by the Clippers and Warriors on back-to-back nights in February to extend the streak to seven, a friend of mine told me he was betting $50 on the Sixers outright against the Jazz in their next game. Of course, the team lost, prompting my friend to bet $50 on the Sixers to win outright "until they win again." Yes, that friend lost $950 gambling in favor of the Sixers this season.
But what truly made the 26-game losing streak special was that the team did play competitive basketball throughout much of it. During the streak, the Sixers lost 10 games by 10 points or less and the team's hectic pace allowed it to compete against some of the best teams in the league before collapsing in many a third quarter.
And at the end of the day, any time someone or something you deeply care about flirts with history, even if it's infamous, it's pretty freaking exciting. Fans packed the Wells Fargo Center to see the Sixers roll over the Pistons. Anyone who watched that game with a rooting interest favoring the boys from Philly went to bed with a smile on their face that night, even knowing that that victory set them further away from earning the best odds at the No. 1 overall pick. Seeing one of the worst teams in Sixers history lead SportsCenter was beyond entertaining and hilarious.
In the words of my appropriately named friend, Frank the Tank:
And I loved every minute of it.